HACKETTSTOWN, NJ — Advances in home technology are “changing the way designers think about kitchen design and the expectations of their client base,” with a new generation of “digital natives” leading the charge toward expanded tech usage.
That’s the key conclusion of a new report by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, whose “Kitchen Tech & Millennials Report” found that millennials, the cohort of homeowners ranging from 26 to 41 years of age, represents an increasing percentage of the remodeling and home-buying client base “who understand how to use technology to make their lives easier, more convenient and efficient.”
“Millennials may have less-expensive projects now, but they are gaining economic strength and rising in their careers, so their disposable income is growing,” said Tricia Zach, head of research for the Hackettstown, NJ-based NKBA.
“And another big plus that differentiates them from some of their elders, they have no fear of technology, Zach said. “They firmly believe that tech is essential in kitchen design.”
According to the NKBA, its study found that kitchen designers “must level up on design-plus-technology to remain relevant with the Millennial consumer base.
“What’s somewhat surprising is that designers still seem to be in the early phase of introducing technology into their clients’ designs,” the NKBA said, adding that only thirty percent of surveyed designers said they have integrated technology into kitchen projects, while fewer than 10% said they regularly use a Technology Integrator.
“All the experts agreed, however, that the design process must start smart and bring a tech integrator into the early stages of the project to plan for adequate infrastructure, electrical work, and network security, the NKBA noted.
While baby boomers continue to be a large part of designers’ customer base, the demographics are shifting toward a younger audience that is increasingly driving future trends, according to the association. While gen X remains the biggest age group, with 49% of the design projects customized for them, designers note a 6% increase in work on behalf of millennials.
“This has resulted in a shift in how designers do business,” the NKBA said, adding that Millennial clients expect virtual meetings and are almost 10% more likely to want to do the entire project virtually.